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The Rifle Brigade:

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Rifle Brigade


The Great War

The Rifle Brigade was an Infantry Battalion that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 11th Brigade, attached to the 4th Division. It's MG Section was transferred on 23 December 1915 to form the 11th Bde. MG Coy..

As a unit of the 4th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
25 August to 05 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps, 26 to 30 August 1914, and III. Corps from 31 August 1914.]
26 AugustBattle of le Cateau [under II. Corps].
06 to 09 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [III. Corps].
12 SeptemberCrossing of the Aisne (11th Bde.).
13 to 20 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [III. Corps].
13 October to 02 NovemberBattle of Armentieres [III. Corps].
13 OctoberCapture of Meteren
1915
25 April to 25 MayBATTLES OF YPRES [V. Corps, Second Army].
25 April to 04 MayBattle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, and from 28 April to 07 May in Plumer's Force].
08 to 13 MayBattle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 and 25 MayBattle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].

2nd

The 2nd Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 25th Brigade, 8th Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
The division had no existence before the outbreak of War. The first units to arrive (from Malta) assembled on Baddesley Common (near Southampton), and on 2nd October, 1914, Divisional H.Q. and available units moved to Hursley Park (near Winchester), where concentration ws effected. The arrival of the 2/E. Lanc. R. on the 30th October completed the division. The 12 infantry battalions had all been brought back from various overseas stations, viz: - India (3), S. Africa (1), Aden (1), Egypt (3), Malta (3), and Bermuda (1). The mounted troops included an existing yeomanry regiment and a cyclist company, which was formed on mobilization. The Field Artillery was made up by one Horse Artillery Bde. (3 batteries), and the two Field Artillery Bdes., which still remained at home. The two Heavy Batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of War, and the Field Companies came from Cairo and Gibraltar. The three Field Ambulances of the Wessex Division (T.F.) were used; and of the four A.S.C. Companies, one (41) came from Cairo and the other three were new formations.

The division embarked at Southampton on the 4th and 5th November, and disembarked at Havre on the 6th and 7th; it began entraining for the Front on the 8th November, and completed its assembly around Merville by the 12th.

Throughout the remainder of the War the 8th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium, and was engaged in the following operations:-

18 DecemberNeuve Chapelle (Moated Grange Attack) [IV. Corps].
1915
10 to 13 MarchBattle of Neuve Chapelle [IV. Corps, First Army].
09 MayBATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE
Attack at Fromelles [IV. Corps, First Army].

25 SeptemberBois Grenier [III. Corps, First Army].

Its MG Section was transferred on 15 January 1916 to form the 23rd Bde. MG Coy..

4th

The 4th Battalion was part of the 80th Brigade, attached to the 27th Division.

As a unit of the 27th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
The division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

The division assmebled and mobilized at Magdalen Hill Camp (2 miles east of Winchester) during November and December, 1914. The 13 infantry battalions of which was composed came from India (10 from ten different stations), Hong Kong, Tientsin and Canada (P.P.C.L.I.); the infantry brigades were formed at Winchester. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit and a cyclist company, which was formed at Winchester. Of the field artillery brigades: I. was originally at Edinburgh, whilst XIX. and XX. came from India; but all three were extensively reorganized and re-formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train came from territorial force divisions.

The 27th Division embarked at Southampton on the 19th - 21st December, disembarked at le Havre between the 20th - 23rd December, and concentrated between Aire and Arques by the evening of the 25th December.

The 17th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November, 1915. In the following month it embarked for the Macedonian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the War.

1914
1915
14 and 15 MarchSt. Eloi [V. Corps, Second Army].
BATTLES OF YPRES
22 and 23 AprilBattle of Gravenstafel Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 April to 04 MayBattle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, until 28 April; then Plumer's Force].
08 to 13 MayBattle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 and 25 MayBattle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
On the 1st November the division was warned to be ready to entrain for Marseille on the 10th November. Entrainment began on the 15th, and embarkation for the Macedonian Front on the 17th; but it was not until the 13th February, 1916, that the last of the division disembarked at Salonika.

Its MG Section was transferred on the 16 May 1916 to form the 80th Bde. MG Coy..

7th

The 7th Battalion was part of the 41st Brigade, attached to the 14th (Light) Division.

As a unit of the 14th (Light) Infantry Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES AND ENGAGEMENTS

This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix 1. Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August, 1914 authorized the addition of six divisions (8th to 13th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and early in September, 1914 the 8th (Light) Division, the senior division of the First New Army, began to assemble in Aldershot. The three infantry brigades of the Division were numbered: 23rd, 24th, and 25th.

It was, however, seen ascertained that the additional regular battalions released from the overseas garrisons would suffice to form another regular division. In consequence of this, Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September, 1914 directed that henceforward the number of the Light Division would be 14, and its infantry brigades would be renumbered 41, 42, and 43. On Monday the 14th September, 1914 this new numbering came into force, and instead of being the senior division, the Light Division became the junior division of the First New Army.

On the 26th September, whilst it was still at Aldershot, H.M. the King inspected the 14th (Light) Division on Queen's Parade. Late in November, 1914 the Division moved out to billets in the Guildford and Godalming district, and on Friday the 22nd January, 1915 the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener. The Division remained in billets around Guildford until the 18th February, and the troops then returned to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot. Divisional field manoeuvres and the fnal training for war were now undertaken.

On the 11th May a warning was received from the War Office that the 14th Division would proceed overseas on the 14th; this date, however, was altered to the 18th May, and on the 18th entrainment began. The Division then crossed from Southampton to le Havre, and by the 25th May it completed its concentration around Watten (north-west of St. Omer). For the remainder of the Great War the 14th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
30 and 31 JulyHooge (German Liquid Fire Attack) [VI Corps, Second Army].
25 SeptemberSecond Attack on Bellewaarde [VI Corps, Second Army].

Its MG Section was likely to have been transferred on the 15 February 1916 to form the 41st Bde. MG Coy..

8th

The 8th Battalion was part of the 41st Brigade, attached to the 14th (Light) Division.

As a unit of the 14th (Light) Infantry Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES AND ENGAGEMENTS

This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix 1. Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August, 1914 authorized the addition of six divisions (8th to 13th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and early in September, 1914 the 8th (Light) Division, the senior division of the First New Army, began to assemble in Aldershot. The three infantry brigades of the Division were numbered: 23rd, 24th, and 25th.

It was, however, seen ascertained that the additional regular battalions released from the overseas garrisons would suffice to form another regular division. In consequence of this, Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September, 1914 directed that henceforward the number of the Light Division would be 14, and its infantry brigades would be renumbered 41, 42, and 43. On Monday the 14th September, 1914 this new numbering came into force, and instead of being the senior division, the Light Division became the junior division of the First New Army.

On the 26th September, whilst it was still at Aldershot, H.M. the King inspected the 14th (Light) Division on Queen's Parade. Late in November, 1914 the Division moved out to billets in the Guildford and Godalming district, and on Friday the 22nd January, 1915 the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener. The Division remained in billets around Guildford until the 18th February, and the troops then returned to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot. Divisional field manoeuvres and the fnal training for war were now undertaken.

On the 11th May a warning was received from the War Office that the 14th Division would proceed overseas on the 14th; this date, however, was altered to the 18th May, and on the 18th entrainment began. The Division then crossed from Southampton to le Havre, and by the 25th May it completed its concentration around Watten (north-west of St. Omer). For the remainder of the Great War the 14th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
30 and 31 JulyHooge (German Liquid Fire Attack) [VI Corps, Second Army].
25 SeptemberSecond Attack on Bellewaarde [VI Corps, Second Army].

Its MG Section was likely to have been transferred on the 15 February 1916 to form the 41st Bde. MG Coy..

9th

The 9th Battalion was part of the 42nd Brigade, attached to the 14th (Light) Division.

As a unit of the 14th (Light) Infantry Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES AND ENGAGEMENTS

This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix 1. Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August, 1914 authorized the addition of six divisions (8th to 13th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and early in September, 1914 the 8th (Light) Division, the senior division of the First New Army, began to assemble in Aldershot. The three infantry brigades of the Division were numbered: 23rd, 24th, and 25th.

It was, however, seen ascertained that the additional regular battalions released from the overseas garrisons would suffice to form another regular division. In consequence of this, Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September, 1914 directed that henceforward the number of the Light Division would be 14, and its infantry brigades would be renumbered 41, 42, and 43. On Monday the 14th September, 1914 this new numbering came into force, and instead of being the senior division, the Light Division became the junior division of the First New Army.

On the 26th September, whilst it was still at Aldershot, H.M. the King inspected the 14th (Light) Division on Queen's Parade. Late in November, 1914 the Division moved out to billets in the Guildford and Godalming district, and on Friday the 22nd January, 1915 the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener. The Division remained in billets around Guildford until the 18th February, and the troops then returned to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot. Divisional field manoeuvres and the fnal training for war were now undertaken.

On the 11th May a warning was received from the War Office that the 14th Division would proceed overseas on the 14th; this date, however, was altered to the 18th May, and on the 18th entrainment began. The Division then crossed from Southampton to le Havre, and by the 25th May it completed its concentration around Watten (north-west of St. Omer). For the remainder of the Great War the 14th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
30 and 31 JulyHooge (German Liquid Fire Attack) [VI Corps, Second Army].
25 SeptemberSecond Attack on Bellewaarde [VI Corps, Second Army].

Its MG Section was likely to have been transferred by 24 February 1916 to form the 42nd Bde. MG Coy..

10th

The 10th Battalion was part of the 59th Brigade, attached to the 20th (Light) Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retrainined and subsequently transferred into the 59th Bde. MG Coy. which joined the Division on 03 March 1916.

As a unit of the 20th (Light) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorised the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September, 1914 the 20th (Light) Division, the junior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble in the Aldershot area.

At first the infantry brigades formed at Blackdown, Deepcut, and Cowshott Camp; and all units encountered the usual difficulties which were eventually overcome by goodwill and keeness. The divisional artillery was started by sending to Deepcut two officers and two drafts of nearly 2,000 men each. The available artillery accommodation, which had been built for two brigades with a total peace-time strength of 700, was strained to its utmost: rooms originally intended for 20 men had to accommodate about 50. By December, in the Artillery, the men were clothed partly in full dress blue uniforms, partly in canvas suits, and partly in shoddy thin blue suits. By this time a few horses had also arrived, and the available saddlery was made up of civilian-pattern snaffles, regulation bridles, hunting saddles, and colonial saddles. Each artillery brigade also possessed enough harness for one six-horse team, and each brigade also had 4 guns (2 French 90m/m and 2, 15-pdrs.) but no sights. In February 1915 twelve old 18-pdr. Q.F.s arrived from India and each 18-pdr. battery received one gun, henceforward proudly known as "our battery's gun."

Later on in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming, and Guildford; but part of the divisional artillery had to go by train as there was not enough harness to move all the vehicles. The issue of khaki now began, additional horses and harness arrived, and the divisional ammunition column was completed with mules.

In April 1915 the Division marched to Salisbury Plain, covering the 62 miles in four days. On arrival the artillery drew its remaining harness and modern 18-pdr. Q.F. equipments were received; but it was somehwat later before the 4.5" howitzer equipments were issued. From the outset the 4.5" howitzers were equipped with No. 7 dial sights, whereas until July 1916 there were only No. 1 dial sights for the division's 18-pdrs. In June all the batteries went to gun-practice. THe training for war was now nearing its final stage.

On the 24th June H.M. The King inspected the 20th Division on Knighton Down. EMbarkation for France began on the 20th July and by the afternoon of the 26th July the Division completed its concentration in the area to the west of St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 20th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 SeptemberAttack towards Fromelles [III Corps, First Army].

11th

The 11th Battalion was part of the 59th Brigade, attached to the 20th (Light) Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retrainined and subsequently transferred into the 59th Bde. MG Coy. which joined the Division on 03 March 1916.

As a unit of the 20th (Light) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorised the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September, 1914 the 20th (Light) Division, the junior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble in the Aldershot area.

At first the infantry brigades formed at Blackdown, Deepcut, and Cowshott Camp; and all units encountered the usual difficulties which were eventually overcome by goodwill and keeness. The divisional artillery was started by sending to Deepcut two officers and two drafts of nearly 2,000 men each. The available artillery accommodation, which had been built for two brigades with a total peace-time strength of 700, was strained to its utmost: rooms originally intended for 20 men had to accommodate about 50. By December, in the Artillery, the men were clothed partly in full dress blue uniforms, partly in canvas suits, and partly in shoddy thin blue suits. By this time a few horses had also arrived, and the available saddlery was made up of civilian-pattern snaffles, regulation bridles, hunting saddles, and colonial saddles. Each artillery brigade also possessed enough harness for one six-horse team, and each brigade also had 4 guns (2 French 90m/m and 2, 15-pdrs.) but no sights. In February 1915 twelve old 18-pdr. Q.F.s arrived from India and each 18-pdr. battery received one gun, henceforward proudly known as "our battery's gun."

Later on in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming, and Guildford; but part of the divisional artillery had to go by train as there was not enough harness to move all the vehicles. The issue of khaki now began, additional horses and harness arrived, and the divisional ammunition column was completed with mules.

In April 1915 the Division marched to Salisbury Plain, covering the 62 miles in four days. On arrival the artillery drew its remaining harness and modern 18-pdr. Q.F. equipments were received; but it was somehwat later before the 4.5" howitzer equipments were issued. From the outset the 4.5" howitzers were equipped with No. 7 dial sights, whereas until July 1916 there were only No. 1 dial sights for the division's 18-pdrs. In June all the batteries went to gun-practice. THe training for war was now nearing its final stage.

On the 24th June H.M. The King inspected the 20th Division on Knighton Down. EMbarkation for France began on the 20th July and by the afternoon of the 26th July the Division completed its concentration in the area to the west of St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 20th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 SeptemberAttack towards Fromelles [III Corps, First Army].

12th

The 12th Battalion was part of the 60th Brigade, attached to the 20th (Light) Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retrainined and subsequently transferred into the 60th Bde. MG Coy. which joined the Division on 03 March 1916.

As a unit of the 20th (Light) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorised the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September, 1914 the 20th (Light) Division, the junior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble in the Aldershot area.

At first the infantry brigades formed at Blackdown, Deepcut, and Cowshott Camp; and all units encountered the usual difficulties which were eventually overcome by goodwill and keeness. The divisional artillery was started by sending to Deepcut two officers and two drafts of nearly 2,000 men each. The available artillery accommodation, which had been built for two brigades with a total peace-time strength of 700, was strained to its utmost: rooms originally intended for 20 men had to accommodate about 50. By December, in the Artillery, the men were clothed partly in full dress blue uniforms, partly in canvas suits, and partly in shoddy thin blue suits. By this time a few horses had also arrived, and the available saddlery was made up of civilian-pattern snaffles, regulation bridles, hunting saddles, and colonial saddles. Each artillery brigade also possessed enough harness for one six-horse team, and each brigade also had 4 guns (2 French 90m/m and 2, 15-pdrs.) but no sights. In February 1915 twelve old 18-pdr. Q.F.s arrived from India and each 18-pdr. battery received one gun, henceforward proudly known as "our battery's gun."

Later on in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming, and Guildford; but part of the divisional artillery had to go by train as there was not enough harness to move all the vehicles. The issue of khaki now began, additional horses and harness arrived, and the divisional ammunition column was completed with mules.

In April 1915 the Division marched to Salisbury Plain, covering the 62 miles in four days. On arrival the artillery drew its remaining harness and modern 18-pdr. Q.F. equipments were received; but it was somehwat later before the 4.5" howitzer equipments were issued. From the outset the 4.5" howitzers were equipped with No. 7 dial sights, whereas until July 1916 there were only No. 1 dial sights for the division's 18-pdrs. In June all the batteries went to gun-practice. THe training for war was now nearing its final stage.

On the 24th June H.M. The King inspected the 20th Division on Knighton Down. EMbarkation for France began on the 20th July and by the afternoon of the 26th July the Division completed its concentration in the area to the west of St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 20th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 SeptemberAttack towards Fromelles [III Corps, First Army].

22nd

The 22nd Battalion was part of the 228th Brigade. It's unclear whether this unit had an MG Section; however, if it did, it was likely to have been transferred into the 228th MG Coy. which was formed on 11 September 1917.

The 228th Brigade was attached to the 28th Division from March 1917; albeit formally Corps Troops.


Inter-war Period

In 1922, the Machine Gun Corps was disbanded and the guns returned to the Infantry Battalion as a Machine Gun Platoon and then formed as a Machine Gun Company in the early 1930s.


Second World War

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again.

However during the Second World War, Battalions of the Rifle Brigade became the Motor Battalions to Armoured Divisions. These Battalions therefore retained a Machine Gun Platoon within its support elements. These guns were transported using Universal Carriers.

During the Second World War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st (Motor)

The Motor Battalion of the 22nd Armoured Brigade of the 7th Armoured Division.

7th Armoured Divisional Flash

The 7th Armoured Division was formed on 16 February 1940 in Egypt and saw action at the following battles:

  • Sidi-Barrani (1940)
  • Bardia (1941)
  • Tobruk (1941)
  • Beda Fomm (1941)
  • Gazala (1942)
  • Alam el Alfa (1942)
  • El Alamein (1942)
  • Tunisia (1943)
  • Sicily (1943)
  • Naples (1943)
  • Volturno (1943)
  • Borguebus Ridge (18th - 23rd July 1944)
  • Nederijn (17th - 27th September 1944)
  • Rhine Crossing (23rd March - 1st April 1945)

    7th

    The Motor Battalion of the 9th Independent Armoured Brigade Group.

    The 9th Independent Armoured Brigade was formed from a Brigade of the 10th Armoured Division - which was originally the 1st Cavalry Division. Initially serving in the Middle East, it transferred to Italy in April 1944.

    8th (Motor)

    Part of the 29th Armoured Brigade of the 11th Armoured Division.

    The 11th Armoured Division was formed on 9th March 1941 in Great Britain and saw action at the following battles:

  • River Odon (2nd July - 12th July 1944)
  • Borguebus Ridge (18th - 23rd July 1944)
  • Nederijn (17th - 27th September 1944)
  • Rhineland (8th February - 10th March 1945)

    10th (Motor)

    The Motor Battalion of the 26th Armoured Brigade of the 6th Armoured Division.

    The 6th Armoured Division was formed in September 1940 in Great Britain and saw action at the following battles:

  • Bou Arada (18th - 25th January 1943)
  • Kasserine (14th - 25th February 1943)
  • Fondouk (7th - 11th April 1943)
  • El Kourzia (22nd - 26th April 1943)
  • Tunis (5th - 12th May 1943)
  • Cassino II (11th - 18th May 1944)
  • Liri Valley (18th - 30th May 1944)
  • Arezzo (4th - 17th July 1944)
  • Advance to Florence (17th July - 10th August 1944)
  • Gothic Line (25th August - 22nd September 1944)
  • Argenta Gap (13th - 21st April 1945)

    10th Bn, Rifle Brigade - Tunisia, 1943


    Post-Second World War

    After the Second World War, the MG assets reverted to MG Platoons within support companies of Infantry Battalions.


    Sources

  • Becke, 1934
  • Bouchery, 1999
  • Reed, 2006
  • Rosignoli, 1989
  • Stubbs, 1943a
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